Are You a Listener or a Reader?

Audible 1

I have a habit of saying, “I read that book,” but what I really mean is I listened to that book. I discovered books-on-tape in my local library two decades ago. Often, as many as 18 cassette tapes would sit inside the clunky black cases holding a world of prose from every genre. Let me tell you why I fell in love with them.

I’d spent years dreaming about listening to stories on my daily drudge to and from work. The radio yielded short, serial mysteries that were sometimes amateurish and always unsatisfying. Most ended before my forty-five minute drive and left me sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with nothing to do.

Finally, Recorded Books appeared in my library and my life changed. I enjoyed bestsellers, the classics, self-help, and the Bible. Whenever a discussion came up, I’d shout, “Yes I’ve read that.”  My reputation as a voracious reader grew, and I never felt guilty accepting the admiration. I’ve read the articles written by “real readers” who say listening is cheating. I’m not even going to address that.

The hardest part of listening to audio books while driving was changing them out. Often the tape inside the cassette would get stuck in the cassette player and I’d need to pull over on the expressway to coax it out and spool it back inside with a pencil.  No way was I driving home without my book.

When Recorded Books switched over to compact discs that made listening while driving so much easier. The multi disk players that automakers had installed for music CD’s allowed me to load four disks of books at once.  My days of hassling with loading and unloading tapes were over. The story could continue. Many times I drove past my exit listening to a part in the book that was really good,

I made my move toward Audible in 2005. Chain bookstores like Kroch’s and Brentano’s and Borders were closing shop. The first book I purchased from Audible was The Truth About Hillary by Edward Klein. It was an unauthorized, uncomplimentary look at the former First Lady in which the author pondered how far Mrs. Clinton would go to become President of the United States.

My second purchase was On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I read it again and again. No explanation necessary, right? In On Writing…, the Master tells us how to do it.

I try to balance my Audible listening with the reading of ebooks.  There are several indie books I read each month. That, added to my own writing, means I have little time to sit and listen to books anymore. My best times to enjoy an audio book are on long walks, washing the dishes, or making the occasional long drive.

It took more than a month to finish my latest Audible book which was seventeen hours and 21 minutes long. This previously would’ve taken me through two weeks of traffic time. It took more than a month to finish and the book was awesome. I hold on to my Audible account because you never can tell when that groundbreaking, bestseller may materialize, and I have to defend my reputation as a well-read woman.

When did you first fall in love with audio books?

Posted by

Educator, Author, Blogger, and supporter of Independent Writers. One mystery novel, The Neon Houses, Find me on Twitter @boom_lyn.

22 thoughts on “Are You a Listener or a Reader?

  1. For people who spend hours in their vehicles commuting, audio books are wonderful! However, for me personally, I still love to hold a real book with real pages. 🙂 I’m old-fashioned that way.


  2. I admit it’s been years since I listened to a recorded book. Back in the day it was a audio cassette (yes, I’m dating myself, LOL). I was never a huge fan, preferring to read, which is why I haven’t tried it lately. Maybe I should. I have friends who LOVE listening to books on tape. I think it would be a great thing for a long drive.


  3. I haven’t tried listening to books yet, but if I were to start commuting, I would definitely give them a try. I learned about hoopla, a service through my district library, where you can borrow “books on tape”, along with music and digital copies of movies. Looking forward to reading more from you about the good and bad of listening to books.


  4. I didn’t discover audiobooks until late October 2011 a few weeks after I switched from working as a State Probation Officer 15 minutes from home to working as a County Probation Officer 45 minutes from home. I remember my first audiobook because of how ridiculous I found it to be. It was Eckahrt Tolle’s _Living the Liberated Life and Dealing with the Pain Body_. But my second was a collection of horror short stories by J.A. Konrath, and it hooked me. I’ve been listening to audiobooks during my daily commute ever since, managing to listen to about 20 each year. I also refer to them as books I’ve read. I’ve learned that a great narrator can make a bad book decent, and that a bad narrator can ruin a good book. A few times, I’ve lucked out on a combination of narrator and book that’s so perfect that I find myself not wanting to turn off the car upon reaching my destination. I am grateful to my awesome Nashville Public Library, which has thousands and thousands of CD and electronic audiobooks, so I listen for free every weekday!


  5. I love to relaxes me. But if I have to drive long distances having a book read to me is an amazing option. So glad we have all these choices now. I cant see what the difference is if its read to me or I read it. All the same info just different approach. Some people are visual or audio wired to learn great either way to get to enjoy a good book.

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